Science: 4000-Year-Old Mummies, Digital-Hygiene Checks, Ancient Snakes

The unexpected origins of a 4000-year-old people, protecting your ‘digital presence’ and what to expect from COP26.

In this episode:

00:48 The origins of the mysterious Tarim mummies

For decades there has been debate about the origins of a group of 4000-year-old individuals known as the Tarim Basin mummies. Their distinct appearance and clothing has prompted scientists to hypothesise they had migrated from the North or West. Now, a team of researchers have used modern genomics to shed new light on this mystery and reveal that migration was not the mummies’ origin.

Research article: Zhang et al.

News and Views: The unexpected ancestry of Inner Asian mummies

08:59 Research Highlights

Making wood mouldable, and how ancient snakes diversified their diets.

Research Highlight: Moulded or folded, this wood stays strong

Research Highlight: Finicky no more: ancient snakes ate their way to success

11:09 How a regular ‘digital-hygiene’ check can protect your reputation

Attaching a researcher’s name to a paper without them knowing is an unscrupulous practice that can have serious repercussions for the unwitting academic. To prevent this, computer scientist Guillaume Cabanac is advocating a once-a-month ‘digital-hygiene’ check, to identify incorrect acknowledgements, and help prevent research malpractice.

World View: This digital-hygiene routine will protect your scholarship

18:51 What to expect from COP26

This week sees the start of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), with an estimated 20,000 people — including world leaders, scientists and activists — expected to be in attendance. Jeff Tollefson, senior reporter at Nature, joins us to explain what’s on the agenda for the conference.

News Explainer: COP26 climate summit: A scientists’ guide to a momentous meeting

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